Recreating (and advancing) pk’s censored domains: Macroinformation.org &
Knatz.com / Teaching / Society / Social Order / DeGate / DeSchooling / School’s Purpose /
Generic Institutional Purpose
All institutions have one prime purpose in common: to discourage the spread of ideas perceived to be incompatible with the perceived health of the institution.
This subject has been bigger than me: I’ve yet to do a satisfactory job: but get the idea anyway.
I mounted a module dedicated to that perception in my Society folder, I’ll resurrect it.
Notes will gather here. Meantime, here’s that file, unedited:
Knatz.com / Teaching / Society / Social Epistemology / Abstractions / Purpose /
2005 08 17
The more important a word, the harder it is to define; the more important a concept, the more likely I am to make a mess of it.
But notice: few to no others are even trying!
The idea of rationally reviewing ideas of purpose for this or that entity, particularly for institutions, has been in my head since 1969 when Paul Lauter and Florence Howe discussed the purpose of school in terms of reverse-engineering: for the NYR. A decade ago I started emphasizing their work in my FLEX section, since graduated to Deschooling (specifically at School’s Purpose: Reverse-Engineering).
Now that I’m reorganizing that latter, it smacks me in the eye what a poor job I’ve done so far. Ah, but now I can put the mess in one place and fix it!
Mission: to demonstrate that institutions know how to bloat but not to grow
Social homeostasis promotes not the best and brightest but those best adjusted to the ruling agendas.
Cream rises, but not as high as scum.
If you want to know something’s purpose, don’t just ask the practitioners; see what their practice actually accomplishes.
Asking this question of the school system, as I was taught to do by a NYR article by Howe and Lauter in 1969, has become an important sub-area of my section of deschooling. My own major tack on the technique relates closely to how I resonated with Ivan Illich’s observation that human institutions, once established, come to embody the reverse of their theoretical charter: the military endangers us (as does health care, the police …), the school models our ignorance… Howe and Lauter helped prime me for Illich, Illich appearing in the pages of NYR shortly after the Howe / Lauter article. But actually, I was already primed: by my adult understanding of homeostasis: any system, especially living systems, tend to protect and promote its averages by stressing its extremes. Some one is grossly shorter or taller than average, s/he has a hard time getting dates: too dumb, can’t get a job, too bright, can’t hold a job …
Today I was thinking of adding a point to my schools’ purpose folder, then, No, I thought, that’s too important: that should be an entry point to a new module on the subject of reverse-engineering the purpose of anything:
A living system’s purpose is to survive: and surviving, to grow, to expand, to colonize …
To pursue its own agendas, and, where it encounters conflicting agendas, to hamper the progress of the competition.
Thus, in any social system, you will be free to think whatever is orthodox (popular, common, average); if you think anything new, original, critical, your thinking will be discouraged. For every Galileo discovering that the ruling cosmology is baloney, there will be a host of tenured professors to deny the evidence, to subvert it, misrepresent it … contradict it: with authority. For every Darwin, there will be a Bishop Wilberforce (and a host of Wilberforce adherents) who will take charge of Darwinism: explain it, refute it … without understanding it in the least.
Umm, let my qualify that last part: Bishop Wilberforce didn’t understand evolution. Actually, he understood it as well as he needed to: to see that it was alien, intelligent … dangerous: that it threatened the comfortable world whose certainties he was among the rulers of.
My own Ph.D. committee didn’t seem to get the first (or any) part of my thesis on Shakespeare’s meta-oxymoron in the Sonnets; but didn’t need to to apprehend that it would shatter their comfortable certainties about Western culture. My points reintroduced the same points that Abelard got castrated for mentioning. (The Church’s repression of those ideas seemed to be still in full force (and from secular arms) nine hundred years later.) Therefore, they interrupted me, insulted the opening sally of my introduction, wouldn’t allow it to continue … But that was nothing new: they hadn’t shown me understanding of anything I’d said since my first graduate paper. Years had slipped by. They weren’t ever going to understand it. Yet if I pretended to practice orthodoxy, if I reflected their views back to them, for the sake of advancement, for tenure, how would I ever get back to what I’d been trying to teach in the first place? The universities are filled with hacks who once repressed their own views: and now they don’t have any. (Or, they made it easy for themselves and never had any views to begin with.)
Three new modules come in today as a group, their ideas intimately related:
|Group Sentience||Genius||Purpose: Reverse-Engineering|
I’m afraid I’ve blurted the above, not yet written it carefully or well. But hell, the material is still there. If you want to learn, you’ll get it anyway; it you don’t, there’s no helping it. Still, I’ll come back and revise: and emphasize homeostatic practicalities.
Does socity prefer stupidity or hypocrisy? I don’t know but it sure has never tolerated honest inteligence: unless the intelligence is very narrowly focused on practical matters. Science and technology fill that niche most wonderfully. But the minds trained to hard evidence seldom apply it to society at large: only within their field. You don’t need MIT training to falisfy most social claims; any twelve year old could do it: if anyone would listen.